Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Nearly 36% of varsity students think graft is okay, says survey

Nearly 36% of varsity students think graft is okay, says survey
A majority of students in institutions of higher learning have a high comprehension of what constitutes graft yet many have no problems with it. – EPA pic, July 19, 2017.
AT least a third of public university students today believe that graft is morally acceptable and does not constitute a crime, according to a survey conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (IIM).

Other findings from the survey, which IIM said was conducted “recently”, were just as alarming – nearly a third of students believe there is nothing wrong with stealing office supplies while a fifth had no problems with nepotism. 

Of the 402 respondents, 33.1% are from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia (47.5%), Universiti Teknologi Mara (15.9%) while the rest from unnamed public universities (3.5%). 

The survey found that:
* 35.8% believe that the receiving gifts in the form of money, goods or services for services rendered is not a form of bribery.
* 28.1% believe it is not wrong to take home office supplies, such as thumb drives, toner and paper, for personal use. 
* 37.3% believe that filing outstation claims, despite accommodation being provided by other sponsors, is morally acceptable.
* 20.6% believe that actively appointing family members for vacant positions in a government department is morally acceptable. 

“The results are a concern,” said IIM CEO Dr Anis Yusal Yusoff in a statement today, adding that the country’s education might need “rethinking”.

“A majority of students have a high comprehension of what constitutes graft.

“We are concerned, as many of these students are about to receive their degrees and enter the workforce. Some of them may become leaders in their workplace of their communities. They are the leaders of 2050,” he added.

“If these are the results from our undergraduates, what hope do we have for those who are less educated?”

Anis said the findings should not be disregarded.

“Our younger generation is the future... What hope is there when they blatantly said they have no problems with what is generally considered as bribery?”

IIM was founded in 2004 by former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. It is to conduct research on good governance in public institutions. – July 19, 2017. 

~ The Malaysian Insight

Two French execs charged with graft over Scorpene sale

Published     Updated

French investigators have charged two former top executives with corruption over alleged kickbacks from the 2002 sale of two Scorpene-class submarines to Malaysia, according to sources close to the long-running inquiry.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today that the two are Phillippe Japiot, former chairperson of French naval dockyards unit DCNI and Jean-Paul Perrier (in photo above), former chief executive of the French defence and electronics giant Thales.

It also reported that one of the sources said Japiot has also been indicted for “abuse of social assets” and Perrier for “complicity in the abuse of social assets.

The investigation was launched in 2010, after a complaint was filed by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) in France in November 2009.
 
The investigation was to determine if a former president of French defence group, Thales International Asia, had paid kickbacks to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak via his former close associate, Abdul Razak Baginda, for a contract to supply two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia.
Najib was defence minister when the sale of the two submarines took place, through a joint venture between Thales and fellow defence company DCN.

Razak Baginda, Najib and former Thales president Bernard Baiocco have denied the allegations.
From 2001 to 2007, Japiot headed DCNI, the international branch of France’s naval shipbuilding operations, which last month changed its name to Naval Group.

~ Malaysiakini

Suhakam wants Putrajaya to intervene in K'tan public whipping bill

Published     Updated

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has called on the federal government to intervene in Kelantan's move to introduce public whipping for syariah offences.

Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said the federal government must ensure that "human rights are respected throughout the country".

Razali said caning was a "cruel, inhuman and degrading" punishment that violated prohibitions against torture in human rights treaties that Malaysia had signed.

"Caning should not be part of our criminal justice system as it has no rehabilitative potential," he said in a statement today.

Last week, the Kelantan state legislative assembly unanimously passed the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 (Amendment 2017) Bill, which will, among others, allow for public whipping as a punishment.
 
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that the bill should be seen as only applying to Muslims in Kelantan.
Razali, however, said that religious laws applied in states must adhere to Malaysia's human rights obligations.

"States such as Kelantan cannot invoke provisions of national law to justify non-compliance with their obligations under international law," he said.

Suhakam has called on both the federal and state governments to review all criminal justice laws to ensure a repeal of any provisions which contravene international human rights laws.

~ Malaysiakini

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Not true syariah laws won't be imposed on non-Muslims

Ravinder Singh     Published     Updated

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said public caning only applies to Muslims in Kelantan and not to non-Muslims, and there are voices telling non-Muslims that they have no business commenting on it.

Interestingly, even some Muslims don’t believe that it will not apply to non-Muslims. Among them is Azrul Khalib, co-founder of the recently formed Civil Rights group Bebas, who said he was not convinced that the ruling would only affect Muslims as claimed by Zahid.
This is corroborated by the statements of the Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin that hudud, when implemented, must apply to all for, otherwise, it becomes an unjust law to the Muslim who is punished while his non-Muslim partner, companion or accomplice, or any non-Muslim committing a similar offence, is not given the same punishment.


So, what’s the purpose of the flogging law? Azrul claimed that the move was about imposing control over Malay-Muslims. “In my opinion, these religious authorities are deviating from the real purpose (of syariah law). The issue here is all about exerting control on the Malay-Muslim community.”

Non-Muslims, therefore, have a right to comment on the public caning law as the hidden intentions, as seen through Asri’s statements, are clear - the same punishment must be meted out to non-Muslims for syariah laws to be fair to the Muslims. So please stop telling the non-Muslims to remain silent on the Damocles’ sword hanging over their heads.

If the religious-political leaders and their supporters honestly believe that the simplistic, knee-jerk action of public caning will cause the so-called un-Islamic Muslims (those who commit syariah offences) to change into good Muslims overnight, then they are very naïve indeed about the process of character development of human beings.

This would be most surprising for in Malay culture there is an age-old saying, “Tatkala lagi rebung tiada dipatah, ketika sudah jadi aur apa gunaknya”? What this means is that if you have not moulded one’s character while one was a child, it is worthless trying to do so when one has become a matured adult. And it is this worthless thing that public caning is trying to do! For what? Political show-off of "power" and "will" to do things to win accolades and blind support of the gullible who look upon religious leaders as demi-gods?

Acting blindly under cover of religion is not the way of moving forward. These “rehabilitation” experts should instead be looking seriously into moulding the character of children at kindergarten and primary school levels and not allow undisciplined behaviour during this age to become gangsters in secondary schools and full-fledged criminals in adulthood, and then trying to beat them back into shape with public caning.
Our forefathers who coined the saying “Tatkala lagi rebung tiada dipatah, ketika sudah jadi aur apa gunaknya” were full of wisdom derived from experience. Today we have “experts” who make laws based on perceptions or dreams for some personal gains for themselves and not for the public good.


I am sorry to say it, but though our schools have religious and moral education classes, and these are even compulsory examination subjects, how much of the religious and moral values taught in theory are actually practised in the very same classrooms and schools even if the children are scoring As in the examinations? And nothing is being done to check this deplorable state of affairs. It is not public caning that will create a better “civilized” society, but moulding the character of children while they are very young will go a long way towards that end. This used to be done by the schools of the 50s and 60s and most of those children were different kind of adults from most of those who went through school after that, that is, the kind that religious leaders-politicians say need public flogging to try and re-shape them.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Educators, students face challenges with dilapidated schools

 | July 16, 2017

Minister Michael Manyin says teachers must remain committed for the sake of students’ future.
Michael-Manyin-school-sarawak-student 
PETALING JAYA: Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin said educators and students in Sarawak are facing many challenges, among them run-down and dilapidated schools.

“Such schools are a letdown to teachers who are committed to their profession, who are hardworking and guide their students to do well,” The Borneo Post quoted Manyin as saying.

He said teachers who aimed for excellence deserve better conditions but financial constraints could be a setback.

“We understand the dilapidated conditions facing teachers, but they should not use that as an excuse not to do a good job in educating students,” Manyin told the media at the Padawan district-level Teachers’ Day celebration at SM Sains Kuching yesterday.

There are 1,454 schools in Sarawak, of which 1,020 are dilapidated and 415 in critical condition, said Manyin.

“Another constraint is many schools in Sarawak are under-enrolled,” he said, adding that the education ministry defined under-enrolled schools as those with less than 150 students.

 “Students studying at under-enrolled schools are usually deprived of specialist teachers, so English or Bahasa Malaysia teachers are asked to teach subjects they are not qualified in,” Manyin said.

He said such teachers could not be blamed if students did not have an interest in certain subjects, such as Mathematics, right from Primary 1.

He added that such under-enrolled schools did not have a competitive environment as some classes had only two students.

“These under-enrolled schools in the same area should merge to get a combined student population of 200 to 300.”

“To date, there are 651 merged schools in the state, the majority of which are in rural areas,” he said.

He said parents and YBs (elected representatives) should support this suggestion to merge for the
sake of the next generation.


“If we don’t merge, the situation will remain and worsen over the next two to three or 10 years.”
Present at the event were the state Education Department’s management and academic sector chief Salbiah Seman, Padawan district education officer Bihud Apok, Padawan district deputy education officer Chong Choi Ling, and SM Sains Kuching principal Setia Ken.

~ Free Malaysia Today

Malaysian Bar wants MACC to be reformed


Noel Achariam
Malaysian Bar wants MACC to be reformed
Bar Council president George Varughese calls on the government to reform the MACC into two bodies, an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC) which provides oversight, and Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), the enforcement arm. – The Malaysian Insight pic, July 16, 2017.
THE Malaysian Bar is calling on Putrajaya to amend the Federal Constitution to set up an "Independent Anti-Corruption Commission".

Bar Council president George Varughese said that the IACC should comprise a group of commissioners that will provide oversight to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which will be renamed the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA).

"We have proposed this to the government two years ago, however we have yet to receive any feedback from them. If they want to discuss the memorandum further then we can do that," he said at the 8th anniversary memorial of Teoh Beng Hock and a forum on reforming MACC.

The public forum was held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Varughese said the aim of reforming MACC is to strengthen it as a corruption-combating institution.

He said that the IACC will operate as constitutional oversight and supervisory body that will oversee the operations and the ACA will be the enforcement arm of the IACC.

"We suggested that at least 40% of the commissioners in the IACC be made of members from civil societies who have relevant experience in the fight against corruption.

"The parliamentary select committee (PAC) on corruption will propose the names of the commissioners and it will be decided by voting, from all the parliamentarians.

"The commissioners should also have security of tenure from dismissal. The removal of a commissioner can only be carried out by a tribunal drawn by the PAC," he said.  

Varughese also said that the IACC will be responsible for the appointment, promotion and discipline of ACA officers.

Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said current legislation is inadequate in checking corruption in the country and therefore needs to be reformed.

"MACC is weak and needs to be reformed with the IACC. We need to look into the legislative, good governance and human rights issues.

"We need more people to come out and fight for change even though we face a lot of barriers," she said.

Maria said that the only way forward for reform is for the public to keep voicing their concerns.

"Institutional reform is very important and at the same we need to see the bigger picture.

"We should not only be focusing on MACC but also look at reforming the police and Attorney-General’s Chambers," she said.

Earlier, Teoh's sister Teoh Lee Lan, said the family will continue to seek justice for her brother.

"The MACC admitted that Teoh did not commit suicide eight years ago and they have admitted their negligence.

"We have demanded an answer from parliament but to no avail. Each year we remember Teoh and we will continue to tell everyone that his case is not over yet," she said.

Other panelists at the forum were Hulu Kelang assemblyman Saari Sungib and Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy board member Ngeow Chow Ying. – July 16, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

Umno should just ban all non-Malay political parties

S Thayaparan     Published     Updated
“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” Henry A Wallace

COMMENT | Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak claimed “the opposition coalition can never match BN, which has a track record of cooperation between the different ethnic groups and tolerance between its leaders, without compromising party principles”. This brings us to the question of what exactly are Umno’s principles.

We know from the National Civics Bureau (Biro Tatanegara, BTN) courses that Umno’s principles are an unholy brew of racial supremacy, religious bigotry and corporatism that was endorsed by a compliant Malaysian polity, resulting in a cascade of religious and racial issues that compromised every facet of government. With the ouster of the charismatic, jailed political prisoner – Anwar Ibrahim – from the Umno fold, the contemporary Umno narrative is one of loss of power and influence by attrition.

The Malay vote is the most important vote to Umno. I wrote about how the dialectic in the Malay community is a threat to Umno hegemony, which is the real reason behind the racial and religious sabre-rattling. This is the existential threat Umno is facing – “what would happen if a majority of Muslims in this country decide that they have had enough with state religious authorities intruding into their lives? They have had enough with money going into religious organisations while essential services that benefit their community are underfunded and mired in bureaucratic corruption. What would happen if they grew tired of the hypocrisy of the state where Muslim elites were immune from the harsh glare of Islam but the rest of the polity was not?”

While the non-Malay component parties of Barisan National scramble to discover their relevance in a post-Pakatan era, the reality is that their days of being handmaidens to Umno warlords are over. Most non-Malay opposition supporters have realised that it is better to have no representation in an Umno Parliament than the compliant non-Malay representation that the traditional mainstream component parties represent.

Just a couple of articles ago, I asked what can the MCA do for Umno – “the answer to that is MCA obviously cannot do anything much for the ruling BN coalition anymore. How do you remain relevant when you have lost your voting base? Umno does not need MCA to win elections. The dodgy meme that the current Umno prime minister is a “minority” prime minister is as fallacious as the so-called 'Chinese tsunami'.”

The split in the Malay polity

The Chinese community has borne the brunt of the dark art form of the propaganda warlocks of Putrajaya, but what has really rattled the Umno hegemon is the split in the Malay polity. While their former master strategist – Dr Mahathir Mohamad – has thrown in with the opposition, the only viable Malay/Muslim political party left is PAS. And those folks are really kooky.

When you have Umno members, ministers and the prime minister claiming that the Chinese would usurp the power of the “Malays” if the opposition ever came to power, this is the very definition of racism. When you claim that “Islam” is under siege by make-believe non-Islamic bogeyman, this is the definition of religious bigotry.

Because the Registrar of Society (ROS) is playing coy with the DAP by not officially asking them to hold re-elections and there is an established chain of events that point to a conspiracy between the executive and a public institution, the only conclusion any rational person can make is that Umno and ROS are acting mala fide against the DAP.

When you consider the racist rhetoric coming out of Umno power brokers, government ministers and government institutions, the religious bigotry from the same, Umno should just drop this charade of democracy and ban all non-Malay/Muslim political parties. This way, the Malay community, or least that section of the Umno voting base, will not have to be encumbered by the existential threat the non-Malays supposedly pose to their “bangsa” and “agama”.

If banning the DAP is not enough, they could also partially ban PKR, since it has non-Malay members and this could possibly pose a threat to Umno/Malay hegemony. However, even if you ban non-Malay/Muslim political parties, the problem persists in that the non- Malay polity will still vote.
If non-Malays vote, what is stopping non-Malays from voting for opposition candidates who do not support the policies of Umno? If the Malay vote is split, then non-Malays, especially in the urban areas, may cast their vote for independent non-Malay candidates. So, perhaps the answer is banning all non-Malay/Muslim candidates.

But – and this is an important “but” – non-Malays who do not have a choice of non-Malay candidates may vote for Malay candidates who do not support the polices of the ruling hegemon. These Malay politicians may become proxies to non-Malay interest and in this way, subvert the policies of “bangsa” and “agama”.

This would also mean that the utilitarian value of the non-Malay component parties would be non-existent. If it is true that non-Malays would rather have no representation than representation of BN component parties, then the fig leaf of inclusion could be discarded. There would be no need to govern by consensus. Instead, Umno could rule by fiat.

This would mean that, in order for Umno to safeguard the “Malays” and “Islam”, the only candidates that should stand for elections are those Malay candidates who support the policies of Umno as they relate to “bangsa” and “agama”. But how does a political hegemon ensure that people vote in the “correct” way?

More importantly, how does the hegemon ensure that the “correct” candidates stand for elections?
So, what Umno really needs are only Malay candidates who support its policies and a voting public that would vote the correct way. There are only two options, as I see it.

(1) Umno could give the illusion of choice and have various Malay political parties that are, in reality, just another head of Umno like the mythical hydra; or

(2) Just cancel democracy and have members of Umno vote in their candidate.

Of course, by this time there would be no need for the non-Malay vote and by this, I mean that non-Malays would not have the vote.

As long as Umno members continue their racist and religious bigotry against the DAP and, by extension, all non-Malays, these are the only two options to the logical conclusion of our fascist end.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

'Learn from Orang Asli, not just help them'

Vinodh Pillai     Published     Updated
Changing our educational system to recognise the Orang Asli and to desist from treating them as if they are subordinates is the first step to co-existing with the indigenous community.

Doing so is also an important precedent, as we have much to learn from them, and not the other way around.

This was one of the points raised during discussions at a talk on the commendable morals of the Orang Asli communities.

The talk, "Materially Poor, Morally Rich: The Orang Asli, Malaysia's First Peoples", was delivered by professor Alberto Gomez, a seasoned anthropologist, to a crowd of more than 50 people at Sunway University on Friday.

Gomez has been studying the Semang and Semai people, two ethnic aboriginal groups in Malaysia, since the 1970s.

Having stayed with these communities in the past, he reflected: "Instead of teaching indigenous people like the Orang Asli, we must make them our teachers.

"There is much we can learn from ways they relate to their fellow humans and the natural environment."

This includes solving global problems such as climate change, racism and even violent conflicts.

Five fishes, sense of reciprocation

Gomez recalled how he had once observed Orang Asli villagers giving fish to one another.

"One family collected five fishes and gave four other families one fish each. This went on until the five families (who were doing the same thing) had collected five fishes each.

"I asked the first family, "Why not just keep the fishes for yourself, since you got five fishes in the end anyway?"

This question was simply disregarded by the villagers, Gomez said.

It was this spirit of generosity and reciprocity that formed the cement of these relationships, which other community members could learn from as well.

Gomez also said the Orang Asli would first seek blessings from the deity of the land before plowing or building works were done, as a respect for Nature.

"The people can take up the practices and beliefs of the Orang Asli, and adopt them into their own lives."

He also painted a slightly different story of what the Orang Asli go through when their forests are cleared.

"(Imagine) your social identity being so intimately connected to the land, that if you were to change it (by clearing the forest), you would be (removing) visible, concrete connections that you have in history.

"A walk into the forest is a journey into their past."

Gomez further claimed that clearing the forest was tantamount to wiping out a museum, or going to the British archives and destroying them.

Respect and understanding

Missionary workers who visit Orang Asli villagers should not be saying they were there to help them.

"(They) should be going to learn from them, not wanting to help them. The exchange must be made through mutual respect," Gomez said, and he went on to debunk an often used saying coined by Charles Darwin.
 
"The concept of 'survival of the fittest' is (wrong) as later editions of his (Darwin's) work claimed that the fittest species are the ones who cooperate, and are more likely to survive."
Asked how he would strategise on this, Gomez remarked, "That's why I'm standing here."

He likened having dialogues and conversations like this to a small hammer chiseling away on a massive wall that had been up for years, an analogy similar to breaking ice blocks to start conversations.

"I remain quite hopeful and optimistic, as there have been many positive changes taking place in the past (in this regard)," he said.

'Moderate' PM courts flak for endorsing 'racist' BTN

Published     Updated
It would be hypocritical for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to champion moderation while at the same time endorsing the National Civics Bureau (BTN) which is perceived to be promoting racism, said Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto.

"While he advocates the idea of 1Malaysia, particularly during the 2013 general election, being the founding father of the Global Moderate Movement, a self-praising defender of the concept of 'wasatiyah' or moderation, the prime minister continues to fan the flames of separatism and discrimination by feeding the monster of racism under his very own nose, disguised as the BTN in the Prime Minister's Office," she said in a statement today.

Patto was responding to Najib who yesterday praised BTN and said the agency was relevant to ensure victories in future general elections.

He had said that BTN had specific objectives of moulding Malaysians to ensure the continuity of the government's leadership and hold on power.

"This statement of using (or misusing) the BTN for political continuity is a reflection of the arrogance and high-handedness of Umno-BN to abuse government machinery to cling on to power.

"Has Najib misplaced his moral compass or is he bankrupt of ideas, ways and means to win the next general elections legitimately that he has to dip his nib into the potent pot of racism, bigotry and hatred to draw up a malignant plan that will further keep alive 'divide and rule' racial politics that will cement Umno-BN as a government for decades to come," said Patto.
 
She added that BTN, despite being publicly assigned the task of nation-building, had done the opposite.
"It is an open secret that the BTN has done nothing to promote tolerance, professionalism, fairness and patriotism and instead has been dancing to the tune of Umno-BN in propagating the likes of supremacy, racism, divisive policies and all that contribute to the destruction of a cohesive, just, fair society in Malaysia.

"After 36 years, it is without a doubt that the BTN has failed in nation-building, which ironically falls in line with exactly what Umno and their leaders have been fighting for," she said.

Patto urged Najib to disband BTN if his 1Malaysia slogan is genuine.

If Najib does not, she added, Harapan will do so if it captures Putrajaya.

"There is no place amongst peace loving Malaysians in a Malaysian Malaysia for BTN to continue to exist," she said.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Anwar, Dr M on top of Harapan's finalised line-u

Published     Updated
Pakatan Harapan has finalised its coalition logo and leadership structure, after months of negotiations.
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will be the coalition's de facto leader while Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be Harapan chairperson.

The following is the coalition's leadership line-up:
  • De facto leader: Anwar Ibrahim (PKR)
     
  • Chairperson: Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Bersatu)
     
  • President: Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR)
     
  • Deputy presidents: Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu), Lim Guan Eng (DAP), Mohamad Sabu (Parti Amanah Negara)
     
  • Vice-presidents: Azmin Ali (PKR), Mukhriz Mahathir (Bersatu), Chong Chieng Jien (DAP), Salahuddin Ayub (Amanah)
     
  • Treasurer: M Kulasegaran (DAP)
     
  • Secretary: Saifuddin Abdullah (PKR)
The decision was announced by Mahathir at a press conference following the coalition's meeting at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya, just after midnight today.

He was flanked by Harapan party leaders, each holding the coalition's new logo.

Mahathir said the coalition will finalise other details in its constitution before submitting its registration to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in about a week's time.

Concessions made

Harapan was supposed to have finalised its structure months before, in order to register the coalition with the ROS.

However, the decision was postponed in order to obtain feedback from Anwar over Bersatu's proposal.

Bersatu had reportedly made concessions, agreeing that Wan Azizah would be the president of Harapan instead of Muhyiddin.

However, Bersatu was adamant that Mahathir should be made chairperson.

Asked if this means Anwar will be the coalition's prime minister candidate, Mahathir said a pardon process will be pursued by the coalition once it comes into power.

There will be an interim prime minister before Anwar, he said, because the legal process for Anwar to re-enter politics could be a long one.

Asked who will be the interim PM, Mahathir said an announcement will be made later.

"We will announce who the seventh PM will be, but today we will only announce the eighth one," he said.

~ Malaysiakini

‘Malaysia does not have a single university’

Published     Updated
Malaysia lacks “proper” universities as existing institutions serve only political and commercial purposes, argued one academic.

“We do not have a single university in Malaysia today.

“Unfortunately, universities now serve either political or commercial purposes (when) they should be a gathering of scholars to pursue knowledge. We are (only) looking for fast routes, quick results and the cheapest solution,” said Sunway University senior fellow Chong Kok Boon last night at a panel discussion entitled “Is Malaysia producing relevant graduates?”.

Chong was also critical of on “shift 6” of the latest Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (High Education) - “empowered governance”, a term explained by Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh as a framework to facilitate a “gradual process to autonomy”.

“But we have the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA 1971) and other rules that apply to private universities.

“These draconian rules take away students’ courage to question, creating a non-questioning culture in universities.

“If we don’t give students the power to question, how will they be ready for tomorrow? ” he asked.

Unless the government repealed these laws, Chong believed true institutional autonomy and academic freedom would not be attained.

Many vocational colleges, little results

Also on the panel was University Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences assistant professor Chang Yun Fah, who spoke on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

By 2020, it is projected that almost half of all new jobs would be skills-based (rather than knowledge-based) and TVET was earmarked as a key driver to enable the country to adapt to this need.

The blueprint also addresses this, dedicating shift four to nurturing “Quality TVET graduates”.

Despite all these plans, Chong lamented how the 577 public and 800 private TVETs in the country remain uncoordinated.

“No single authority oversees the management of TVET, unlike in Singapore,” he said.

In 2016, more than RM6 billion was allocated for the development of TVET in the country compared with RM1.18 billion in 2014 and RM2.25 billion in 2015.
Seven ministries - Education Ministry, Human Resources Ministry, Youth and Sports Ministry, Health Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, Works Ministry and Rural and Regional Development Ministry, along with more than 20 government agencies - have since taken it upon themselves to run their own TVET courses.

“But these courses are all run differently and some are not recognised by the government itself. Quality and accreditation of TVET programmes are not aligned.

“The government invests so much money but there are too many interested parties.

“This is a waste of resources,” he said.

Despite all the resources spent on it, Malaysian TVETs only had a 15 percent enrolment rate, Chang added.
Organised by the National Education Reform Initiative (IPPN) along with Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM), the panel discussion featured three other speakers - UCSI University architecture professor Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, senior researcher Tan Ai Mei and INTI chairperson Tan Yew Sing.

It was moderated by Universiti Putra Malaysia associate professor Badlishah Sham Baharin and attended by about 40 people, many from the education sector.

The discussion was held following the launch of “Feedback and Recommendations on The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education)”.

As its name suggests, academics, including some on the panel, had studied each of the “10 shifts” that make up the existing blueprint, released by the Higher Education ministry in April last year.

Representing the 10 goals the ministry hopes to attain by 2025, the 10 shifts are:

Holistic, entrepreneurial and balanced graduates;
Talent excellence;
Nation of lifelong learners;
Quality TVET graduates;
Financial sustainability;
Empowered governance
Innovation ecosystems;
Global prominence;
Globalised online learning; and
Transformed higher education delivery.

Among the recommendations put forward in the book are academic freedom and institutional autonomy, merit-based recruitment of academics, reinstating autonomous student unions, the government to provide comprehensive research funding to higher learning institutes across all disciplines and the establishment of a multi-ethnic TVET national council.

~ Malaysiakini

Sarawak native rights defender wants change to Land Code now


Desmond Davidson
Sarawak native rights defender wants change to Land Code now
Anger over native customary rights is coming to a boil as land owners have lost seven cases in the Court of Appeal in this week alone. – EPA pic, July 13, 2017.
THE anger of native customary rights (NCR) landowners in Sarawak is rising to a boil.

Native land rights activist, Nicholas Bawin, said the reason was that this week alone, NCR land owners have lost at least seven cases in the Court of Appeal on claims to land based on the concept of pemakai menoa (territorial domain) and pulau galau (communal forest reserve).

Bawin, a former deputy president of the state's Majlis Adat Istiadat (Customary Rights Council) said to stop the anger from boiling over, the state government must act immediately on its proposed amendment to the Land Code.

He suggested that the state government convene an emergency sitting of the state legislative assembly to pass an amendment to the Land Code rather than wait for its next sitting in November.

“Waiting for the November sitting may cause more people to lose the rights to their lands as there are still cases to be heard in the High Court and the appellate courts,” he said today.

Reversal to the hundreds of NCR land cases still before the court was expected after the Federal Court last December ruled that the native customary rights of the native tribes people, the Dayaks, apply only to their farmland (temuda) and not to the forest areas around their traditional longhouses.

The Federal Court had ruled that there was no legislation in Sarawak that gives the force of law to Dayak claims that they have NCR over virgin forests around their longhouses.

The court also ruled that the customs of pemakai menoa and pulau galau do not fall within the definition of law under Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution when allowing an appeal by the state government in a case filed by Tuai Rumah Sandah and seven other landowners in Ulu Machan, Kanowit.

The Dayaks had long argued they have for generations practised customary rights over the pemakai menoa around their longhouses, including primary forest within that domain (pulau galau), which is usually owned by the community.

Anticipating rising anger, the state government has since set up a task force, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah, to advise the government how best to amend the Land Code, circumvent the ruling and appease the Dayaks – the ruling government's vote bank.

“I am aware that an application has been filed to review the Federal Court’s decision but in view of the uncertainty of the date of hearing, and more importantly, of the outcome of that review, it is imperative that the Sarawak government act without delay to amend the Land Code so that the rights of the indigenous people to their pemakai menoa and pulau galau are recognised,” Bawin said.

He said an amendment to the Land Code would remove any uncertainty as to the recognition of the concept of pemakai menoa and pulau galau.

“I therefore humbly urge the Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah, as head of the taskforce set up by the government to advise the government, to expedite the recommendations.

“This is the only way to remove all uncertainty and put to rest the fears and worries of the people,” Bawin said, adding that the government is duty bound to protect the rights of indigenous communities. – July 13, 2017.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The muzzling of Dr M

    Published     Updated

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
- John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

COMMENT | So now we have proof that Umno members “cover” for their president. We have proof that the corruption of Umno presidents are covered up by Umno members. We have proof that Umno members will overlook any kind of malfeasances to keep their leader in power.

We have this proof because Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is now acting deputy president of the party, admitted as much when he told former prime minister and de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad to shut up or recite Quranic verses to Allah, whichever comes more easily.

This is what Zahid said: “He unveils the flaws of the present leaders, don’t forget we also used to cover his flaws. Don’t let it be our turn to show his shame and ‘scabs’. There is so much that we can reveal.”

Let us unpack this statement. We can discern three important facts from it.

1) Zahid does not dispute that the current Umno leader and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has “flaws” and in this case, the only flaws that the current de facto opposition leader Mahathir is unveiling are the numerous corruption scandals that are plaguing this regime. You would note that the Umno acting deputy president is not disputing those flaws, indeed he acknowledges them as human “weakness” that every Umno politician (leader) has.

2) He acknowledges that Umno members “cover” the flaws of their leaders. So, as an Umno member, he is admitting that over the years Umno has engaged in acts to cover the possibly criminal or unconstitutional acts of their leaders to safeguard the position of Umno and the position of the president of Umno and the office of prime minister of this country.

3) That by claiming “there is so much we can reveal”, Zahid is admitting that Umno members have evidence of wrongdoing and have purposely concealed these alleged criminal acts from the state security apparatus, the judiciary, the press but more importantly, the public.

So, let me be clear. What Zahid’s statements reveal is that (1) Umno members know that their leaders are corrupt (flaws); (2) that Umno members cover for their leaders; and (3) Umno members have evidence of the wrongdoings of their leaders.

How do Umno members cover for their leaders? Now, I am just spitballing here, but they would have to ensure that their leaders are insulated from the banalities of accountability. This would mean that independent institutions that are meant to investigate and prosecute the “flaws” of politicians would have to be accountable to members of Umno, whose primary goal is to cover for their leaders.

This would mean that the security apparatus, the judiciary and the press would have to answer to Umno because these would be the institutions that the Umno leader and prime minister would need “covering” from.

In other words, Umno members, like Zahid and every other Umno member who are covering for their dear leader, are collaborators and/or accomplices to the crimes committed by their president. Now I am not making an accusation, I am merely clarifying what the Umno deputy president said.
So, when Umno members defend the indefensible, when they claim that their leaders have done no wrong, when every state apparatus clears Umno leaders of wrongdoing, what we are left with is the knowledge, articulated by the Umno deputy president, that all this was done because Umno members cover for their leaders.

So, this means that the so-called Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the foreign exchange market (forex) issue of the past is merely an attempt by Umno members to “reveal” the wrongdoings of Mahathir? This would also mean that this RCI is indeed politically motivated in defence of the current Umno president and Malaysian prime minster because Zahid publicly threatened to “reveal” the “shame” and “scabs” of the former prime minister.

And why was Salleh shocked?

So, let's take this issue of the “appointments as additional judges to the Federal Court”, which has received a fair amount of justified criticism from members of the Bar and former judges. Former chief justice (CJ) Abdul Hamid Mohamad had warned that “an extension of a CJ's tenure beyond the 66 years and six months may compromise the independence of the judiciary”.

In other words, what the Najib regime is doing may affect the independence of the judiciary. This brings us to Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak’s shocking revelation that Mahathir, in his interview with The Guardian implied that jailed political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim “was fixed up by a corrupt judiciary and the judges were dishonest”.

Here is the problem. If Umno members cover for their leaders and the only way they can do this is if they control the apparatus of the state, then why is it shocking that a former prime minister implies that the state, through the judiciary, covered up a political problem for an Umno president?

If Umno members cover for their leaders, and the only way they can cover for their leaders is by controlling the apparatus of the state and concealing evidence (as articulated by Zahid), then why is it a surprise to the communications and multimedia minister that the former prime minister implies a conspiracy by the state (during his tenure) to imprison a political opponent?

If by stacking the judiciary in favour of Umno politicians means that it would be easier to “cover” the flaws of Umno presidents, then why should we be surprised by the fears and warnings that this would lead to an unnatural relationship between the executive and the judiciary as articulated by former CJ Abdul Hamid?

With this in mind, how can we not believe that this move by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to compel the DAP to hold a further round of its central executive committee (CEC) elections is anything but a political gambit by the Umno state to neutralise a political opponent of a compromised Umno president before the upcoming general election?

Concerning this crippling of the DAP, this quote from Lim Kit Siang’s blog needs to be addressed.

“In fact, it has led even independent observers to swallow hook, line and sinker to believe in these fake news and false information. For instance, one independent commentator described the whole ROS fiasco as ‘a ticking time bomb of DAP’s own design’ that should have been addressed a long time ago in a transparent manner. How is the ROS fiasco ‘DAP’s own design’?”

Which is the more plausible proposition?

1) That I have swallowed hook, line and sinker the fake news and false information of this regime and its propagandists.

Or

2) That I was sincerely questioning the strategies (as it were) of an opposition political party that is in the crosshairs of this regime, the state apparatus that they control and the propagandists who serve them.

I will leave rational readers to decide which they think is more plausible.

Ultimately, muzzling Mahathir says more of the collective guilt and complicity of Umno members, rather than the agenda of the former prime minister turned de facto opposition leader.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Former CJ defends judicial appointments, says it's constitutional

Kow Gah Chie     Published     Updated

The judicial appointment process of chief justice Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin as additional judges was in accordance with the Federal Constitution, former chief justice Arifin Zakaria said today.

Arifin also confirmed that he made the recommendation on their appointments to the king on March 30.

"That's on record, I can say that," he told Malaysiakini.

Arifin was responding to several comments, including from a former chief justice and the Malaysian Bar, that the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli were unconstitutional.

He has been dragged into this constitutional dispute because his advice to the ruler was made on March 30, while the government only announced the appointments last week.

Arifin said it was his view that the appointment process was done according to the constitution.

However, he was reluctant to comment any further.

"I think the matter is in dispute and there is no need for me to say anything. It is not appropriate at this juncture.

"They are going to challenge it in court, so it is not right for me to say anything."

Asked whether he would give his opinion if the matter is argued in the court of law, Arifin said: "Yes, if they have to call me."
 
On July 7, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) issued a statement that Raus would continue to hold the post of chief justice for another three years, beginning Aug 4.
Before the appointment, former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad had argued that a further extension to the tenure of Raus after the 66 years and six months would be unconstitutional.

The Malaysian Bar described the appointments as "blatantly unconstitutional" and announced that it would hold an emergency meeting on the matter.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim questioned if prominent lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was involved in the extension. 

Zam: Public caning a 'new attraction' for Nazri to promote

Following the passing of a syariah bill that would allow public caning in Kelantan, former information minister Zainuddin Maidin said that Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz now has a new "tourist attraction" to promote abroad.

He said although such punishments are also carried out in Brunei and Saudi Arabia, Malaysia is unique in the sense that the country is a democratic country, whereas Brunei and Saudi Arabia are absolute monarchies.

“This can become a new Malaysian tourism product for Nazri to sell overseas so that non-Muslims, particularly those from developed nations, can see ancient and barbaric punishments being carried out in the democratic and modern Malaysia […]

“Non-Muslim tourists who could not witness it in the ‘forbidden land’ of Saudi Arabia would surely flock to Malaysia because there are no obstacles here.

“This move can also be promoted by Nazri amongst Arab nations as a step towards repairing Saudi Arabia’s image of using uncivilised punishments. Surely Saudi Arabia would raise Malaysia’s pilgrimage quota after this,” he said in a blog post today.

He said Nazri would surely be delighted when the new law comes into force.

In June last year, Nazri had said that Kelantan is in need of harsher syariah laws as there are more syariah crimes being committed there, and that the Muslims in the state are not afraid of existing punishments.

For the record, the Indonesian province of Acheh also uses public caning as a means of punishment for certain syariah offences. The country adopts a democratic republic system.

Yesterday, Bernama reported that the Kelantan state legislative assembly has unanimously passed the Syariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 (Amendment 2017).
 
Apart from allowing the corporal punishment to be carried out in public, the amendment also empowers religious enforcement officers to use handcuffs on suspects and allows video clips to be used as evidence in trials.
Taking on a more serious note, Zainuddin said the move would tarnish BN’s image, even though it would only be implemented in the PAS-led state of Kelantan.

He claimed that this is because BN is in cahoots with PAS to implement the law.

“The world would surely be asking how a dogmatic, backwater and poor state can pressure a central government led by learned people,” he said.

He added that the new law’s implementation would also be a betrayal to the foundation set by past Umno leaders such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein, and Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, who had strived to build Malaysia as a tolerant Islamic country that is harmonious, liberal, modern, democratic, and on par with developed nations around the world.